I've been mulling over posting this for a while since the Literary Challenges stopped. I used it to further explore my main crew and some of the ideas I had about them. It's bitty, but ties in with the sections I've submitted for some of the challenges.
Kyle Tremayne leant against the railing of the Space Sock observation deck and gazed out at the compact vessel hanging in the brightly lit enclosure of the drydock.
For the last six days the USS Scimitar had been undergoing what Starfleet called, “refit and assessment” following its last assignment on the borders of Romulan space. To Kyle it seemed like the first time the ship had been truly stationary since he assumed command a year ago.
A gravelly voice interrupted his musings, “Not exactly her best angle Sir.”
Kyle chuckled and looked up at the rugged grinning face of his chief engineer, “Jaro! Fleet finally let you off the ship?”
The Bajoran shrugged, “Louisa is shepherding the Inspector, if he doesn’t give us the all clear for tomorrow she can always threaten to assimilate him.”
Kyle shook his head in mock despair as Jaro Antar settled on the rail next to him, “Any problems?”
“Just the usual sulking, I had to use a shuttle to get here and there is a grouchy Klingon whose sonic shower is playing a selection of “Zefram Cochrane’s Favorites” rather loudly.”
Kyle frowned at the engineer who raised his hands to placate his captain. “Oh don’t worry, she’s behaving where the Inspector is, this new computer A.I. is quirky but it isn’t daft.”
“What did B’toria do this time?”
“Something about deflector control being an outpost of Grethor.”
Kyle winced, “Out loud?”
Jaro picked an invisible piece of lint from the sleeve of his uniform. “Lieutenant Commander Tharg is trying to coax an apology out of her, but you know how B’toria can be when her aristocratic ego gets dented.”
“Never the less that’s the most reassuring thing I’ve heard all day.”
“Function, is the essence, of control. I am in, Control.” T’Lara slowly opened her eyes to look at the tightly packed tower of precariously stacked Keethara blocks. It had been a trying day and the slightly misaligned blocks echoed T’Lara’s somewhat shaken mental pillars of logic. Other Vulcans made her... uncomfortable and Fleet Inspector Sokor with his Kolinar discipline seemed to loom in judgement of her. T’Lara had always been rather volatile, and the unshakable sense of not being up to standard had ultimately driven her to join Starfleet, both to escape the cold appraising gazes and to disprove the nagging uncertainties lurking at the back of her mind.
The comm. unit chirped into life, the voice was the same Starfleet computer standard that had been in use for the last forty years, although to T’Lara, this one carried a whiney edge, “Commander, I do find this invasive inspection quite insulting. Mr Jaro’s staff has been quite efficient in maintaining my systems even if the Bajoran iconography around my warp core is non-regulation. Have I not performed beyond design expectation?”
T’Lara buried the urge to sigh beneath a mental chant. “Computer, given the unique nature of your situation, it would be logical for Starfleet Command to be curious about the status of this ship. This is only the second instance of a self aware A.I. developing from the combined systems of a ship.”
“Commander, my duty as a Starfleet Vessel is to explore and protect. I can do neither while confined in Drydock. I am experiencing... impatience?”
“That would be a logical conclusion; such a response is exhibited by other members of the crew during periods of enforced inactivity.”
“Like Captain Kyle?” The enthusiasm, T’Lara noted, was almost childish.
“I am sure the Captain is more than capable of enduring a week here at Drydock. Perhaps you could quietly observe the crew while they perform their duties. It may help you to better understand them.”
“Stop teasing my Chief Science Officer. That is an order.”
“Awww.” The com-channel chirped off.
Lieutenant Commander Tharg N’Freem grinned across the three dimensional chess board, showing a mouth full of metallic teeth. “Come on Bee you know better than to get into a fight with the computer, it’s more stubborn than you to start with.”
The young Klingon snarled before snatching up a pawn and advancing it across the board. “If you think, you can talk me into apologising then you are risking offending my honour.” She glared at the diminutive Orphasian. With his scarlet skin and slicked-back white hair.
Tharg’s mirror-like eyes didn’t waver. “Bee, you may have me at checkmate in seven moves, but don’t try and kid me into thinking that batleth in your quarters is for more than display.”
Trembling with rage the Klingon slowly rose from her chair and silently left the mess hall. Tharg watched her calmly and then carefully picked up the white queen piece. “Check.” He whispered.
“Commander, of all the stunts you’ve pulled since I came aboard, that has to be the stupidest I’ve seen. You are lucky to be alive.”
Tharg looked up at the still horrified young face of a Bajoran woman and grinned.
“Lieutenant Varis, when you have known B’toria as long as I have you will learn that the little slap I just gave to her ego was the best favour I could do.”
Lieutenant Varis Sharla settled into the vacant chair and nervously looked at the mess hall door, “Are you kidding? She’s probably already on her way back from her quarters with that batleth!”
“Ha!” barked Tharg. “It will take her three minutes by turbo-lift to reach her quarters. A further twenty seconds the collect said batleth, and a further two minutes to walk to Holodeck two.”
Varis shook her head in disbelief and again looked nervously at the door, “Holodeck two?”
“The Klingon calisthenics program is stored in its database. For the next hour or so she will run the program until the difficulty level produces an opponent that will finally knock her senseless.” Tharg proffered the chess piece to the bemused lieutenant.
“And then what?”
“Hmm? Oh, an epiphany of course, well a headache and an epiphany.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Lieutenant, our esteemed Chief Science Officer has entrenched herself in a battle she cannot win. Her upbringing and personal pride forbid her from simply conceding defeat. She will fight until the computer beats her, only then can she accept the course of action she has so far avoided.”
Tharg’s confident grin faded and he stared at the empty doorway as a line of thought barged its way to the front of his mind. “Bee didn’t say anything you idiot! She just left.” Tharg grimaced mentally, he had a lot of apologising to do and that was only if Doctor Zarat didn’t kill him first.
The bustle of main engineering faded leaving only the regular pulse of the warpcore audible above the measured steps of the Fleet Inspector. Lieutenant Commander Louisa Hendricks had long ago noted the sudden drop in efficiency caused by the presence of the Inspector wherever they went, it was... frustrating. The man had walked around the Scimitar like a disapproving mother-in-law, but this was going to be the toughest challenge of the inspection.
The Inspector stopped abruptly and raised a pointed eyebrow as he surveyed the room. Suspended around the warpcore were dozens of small pieces of inked parchment and the core itself appeared to be etched with arcane symbols, all non-regulation.
“Lieutenant Commander, perhaps you can enlighten me as to why main engineering looks like a temple?”
Louisa stood sharply to attention and focussed her gaze on the tip of the Inspector’s left ear. “For efficiency Sir. The cumulative effect of the Bajoran iconography has resulted in a five percent increase in efficiency. I have performance figures if you wish to verify this Sir.”
The inspector tapped a note into his PaDD, “Lieutenant Commander, do these objects emit any radiation?”
“None we have detected Sir.”
“Do they contain any devices connected to the ship’s systems?”
“So these objects are essentially inert?”
“Essentially, yes Sir.”
“Yet, you expect me to report to Fleet Command that a few inert... trinkets, have had such a significant effect on effect of engineering performance? This is not logical.”
“If I may Sir, I initially shared your scepticism when I first took my post here however, the numbers do not lie.”
“Very well Lieutenant Commander, I will review your efficiency statistics. However I expect such a practice would raise concerns with Fleet Command.”
Louisa watched the Inspector make a brief note on his PADD and followed him out of Engineering.
Kyle hated his dress uniform, the jacket had never fitted right and collar seemed determined to strangle him. Unfortunately this discomfort was the nothing compared to the appraising gaze of the Admiral T’Nae.
Kyle had been expecting this; ever since the incident with Drozana Station, Fleet Command had been following the activities of the Scimitar with an uncomfortable level of scrutiny. The emergence of the computer A.I. had been the icing on the cake for the more conservative elements of command to recall the Scimitar and grill its captain.
Admiral T’nae clasped her hands together and studied her subordinate over her knuckles. “Captain, for a ship and crew that has barely been out of Space Dock for a year, the Scimitar has become quite the point of contention. There are departments of Fleet that have been lobbying for access to the Scimitar in order to conduct lengthy studies of this new artificial intelligence inhabiting your ship. Your arguments regarding the precedents set for artificial life form rights are sound enough for the Admiralty Board to allow Scimitar to continue operations without interference with the A.I.; however there are two conditions set down by Starfleet Command.”
“Firstly, you are to make regular reports on the A.I., restrict the content to performance figures and facts and do not include opinions. Secondly...”
“Here it comes,” thought Kyle, “I’m going to get a pen pusher Commander camping on the bridge and second guessing me.”
“Starfleet has ordered me to assign an officer to the Scimitar for the purpose of studying the A.I. in operation.”
Dabo! Kyle started mentally running through the regulations for a technicality to object.
T’Nae continued, “As Starfleet has not specified an officer, I have assigned one of Starbase 39’s computer analysts to the task. Lieutenant Takeda will report to you at nineteen hundred hours. His orders are to study the A.I. without direct interference. He will report directly to me regarding the assignment and will act as a member of your crew in all other capacities.”
Kyle’s mental recital ground to a halt. “Mam?”
T’Nae raised a pointed eyebrow, “You have a problem with your orders Captain?”
Kyle tried to suppress a grin and failed, “No Mam!”
Dr Kestra Zarat deactivated the tricorder and placed it carefully back in her lab coat pocket.
“This is the fourth time I’ve had to send a medic to scrape you off of the holodeck floor since we got assigned to this ship. You need to find a slightly less harmful way of blowing off steam, before I run out of analgesics.”
“Hmmp.” responded the Klingon woman that sat gingerly on the surgery bed. To Kestra’s empathic senses, the sullen mix of wounded pride, frustration and guilt that seemed to radiate from her patient was almost overwhelming.
Resisting the urge to gag from the emotional overload Kestra sat next to her patient, “What’s troubling you B’toria? I’ve never seen you this wound up before.”
B’toria locked eyes with her and scowled, “Huh, you’re scanning me aren’t you?”
“I don’t need to my friend; any Empath within six decks of here could pick out your emotional maelstrom.”
“I’m trapped and lost. I can’t go home, what’s left of my house is a few refugees scattered on a handful of colonies. I failed my people. Now even the ship’s computer can walk all over me. Tharg was right, I’m no wa...”
“Stop right there!” The sternness in her own voice startled even Kestra and for an instant she wondered just how much her empathic abilities were affecting her. “You listen and listen well. There was nothing you could do to save the House of Shenara when the war started, a lone Cadet fresh out of the academy wouldn’t have change the course of events. Even Starfleet couldn’t stop House Torg’s assault, so don’t go trying to take the blame for that. If you want to help your people then go and find that defiant young cadet I met at the academy, the one that used to walk proudly into class like a conquering general, regularly beat me at springball and won three awards for her subspace theory paper.”
B’toria looked up at Kestra and nodded, “Those were good times.”
Kestra smiled, the claustrophobic emotional pressure seemed to be lifting, “Who says they ended? She just needs to hear the call to battle.”
B’toria stood and looked down at her friend, “Thank you.”
“Remember, the computer is like a child, sometimes you have to concede ground to win the battle.”
“Spoken like a dahar master.”
“Heh, I never could stomach gagh.”
B’toria’s laugh growled through sickbay.
Minoru Takeda crammed the last of his spare uniforms into the battered academy-issue holdall. He could sense Mirri fidgeting anxiously by the door, the crisp scent of her perfume summoning images of their time on Andor the last time they were on leave.
“I still can’t believe you finally got assigned to a ship. I was starting to think they would keep you here forever.”
“It’s not a permanent posting Mirri-chan. The admiral wants me to study the Scimitar’s computer; it’s supposed to be quite special. I’ll probably be back here the next time the Amazon stops by for supplies.”
A pair of blue arms wrapped themselves around Minoru’s waist from behind as Mirri pressed herself against his back. “I’ll miss you my Minoru. Promise you’ll stay safe and write to me.”
Minoru turned in the Andorian’s embrace and cradled her face in his hands, her antenna stretched out toward him and those azure eyes so easy to get lost in. “What’s wrong with you today? You never get like this before leaving on the Amazon. I’ll be ok, the Scimitar is one of the most advanced ships in the fleet.” The eyes begged, “I promise Mirri-chan, I promise.”
Minoru walked along the umbilical walkway that stretched from the drydock facility to the sleek hull of the ship that was to be his home for the next few months. A mixture of technicians and dock workers bustled around him forcing the young Lieutenant to concentrate on not stumbling into anyone and preventing his mind from wandering back to the woman he had left standing at the boarding gate.
“Here goes nothing” Minoru thought as he stepped through the airlock. The burley security officer on guard looked him up and down before returning to his console.
“Welcome aboard Lieutenant Minoru Takeda!” Minoru half jumped out of his skin, the voice came from all around him. It was cheery and almost feverishly energetic.
“I do hope you had a pleasant experience of boarding control some of the security monitoring computers on Starbase thirty nine can be so stuffy! Your quarters are situated on Deck Four Section C. You have an immediate appointment with Chief Engineer Jaro in Main Engineering and you are to report to Captain K... Captain Tremayne in two hours eleven minutes. Hurry along now!”
Minoru looked wide eyed at the security officer who was smirking now. “Was that the ship’s computer?”
The officer nodded and pointed down the corridor with his thumb, “Down that way and third on your left Sir.”
Kyle Tremayne pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration and looked across his ready room desk at the diminutive red skinned face of his helmsman. “Tharg, I understand that the situation with Lieutenant Commander B’toria has been resolved, so why is it that I have my usually serene Chief Medical Officer baying for your blood?”
Tharg paused his large mirror silver eyes blinking nervously. “Well Sir, I may have slightly underestimated things.”
“Yessir, I have already apologised at length to Lieutenant Commander B’toria. In keeping with tradition only one breakable object was thrown, and fortunately it missed me. We are on good terms. Although I fear she will never go easy on me at 3D chess again.” Tharg mustered a weak grin of pointed metallic teeth.
“Indeed? Given your record I will let this incident pass. See that your estimates are more accurate in the future.”
“Dismissed.” Kyle watched Tharg waddle out of the room on his disproportionately short legs and wondered if he had let the Orphasian off too lightly.
Kyle scanned through the personnel file for Lieutenant Minoru Takeda again. Takeda’s academy scores and performance statistics were well beyond those of a lieutenant, he had turned down command development and accepted a data monitoring posting to Starbase 39. There were no discommendations or even a mildly negative note on his disciplinary record. “Well Mr Takeda,” Kyle muttered to himself, “What have you been up to?”
The office door chimed, Kyle deactivated the monitor screen and sat back in his chair. “Enter.”
The door hissed open and a young operations officer stepped in. “Lieutenant Minoru Takeda reporting as requested Sir.”
Kyle rose from his chair and extended a hand in welcome. “Welcome aboard Lieutenant.”
The handshake was firm and confident, no sweaty palms like most junior officers meeting their new captain for the first time. “Thank you Sir. This is my first time on a Dervish class ship, it’s quite remarkable.”
Kyle gestured to the spare chair and settled back down behind his desk. “I’m sure you will adjust quickly. She isn’t as spacious as a station or any of the larger ships, but the engineers did a fine job of not making crew feel like sardines in a tin.”
“I was informed by Admiral T’Nae that my assignment is to act as a computer specialist to assist in the maintenance of the new artificial intelligence.”
Kyle nodded and presented the young officer with a data pad, “That is correct and these are your orders. I am assigning you to Commander Jaro’s staff, he will determine your day to day duties. Due to the sensitive nature of your work you will discuss it with no one outside of your immediate chain of command unless authorised by either the Admiral or myself. All data relating to the A.I. is considered classified and a matter of Federation security.”
“Understood Sir. If I may Sir, is the computer aware of my assignment? A.I.’s can have trust issues.”
Kyle smiled, folded his arms and looked toward the ceiling, “Computer?”
“Yes Captain K... Tremayne?” chimed in the computer with a nervous tone.
“Have you been eavesdropping on Lieutenant Takeda and myself?”
“Um, yes Captain. Should I not have?”
Kyle shrugged at the new Lieutenant. “You are aware of Mr Takeda’s role aboard this ship?”
“Yes Captain, Lieutenant Minoru Takeda has been reassigned from... REDACTED... to study USS Scimitar master A.I. with a secondary role as ExoComp coordinator for the star ship maintenance division. Orders were signed by Admiral T’Nae.”
“Redacted?” queried Kyle.
“I am sorry Captain, fleet certified security subroutine.” Responded the computer mournfully.
“Hardly surprising Sir,” observed Takeda, “Starfleet Security is very thorough when it comes to my previous assignment.”
Kyle frowned, “Your history wouldn’t pose a threat to this ship would it Mr Takeda?”
“Oh no Sir. I don’t know enough to be a risk.”
“Very well, carry on Mr Takeda.” said Kyle as he settled back into his chair.
After the Lieutenant had left, Kyle glanced back up at the ceiling, “Computer, is there anywhere on this ship you do not monitor?”
“Crew quarters unless authorised by internal sensors detection of an unknown anomaly, unauthorised weaponry or a direct order from a commanding officer.”
“Thank you.” Said Kyle somewhat relieved that the crew’s privacy had not be violated.
The ready room door hissed open and Kyle winced as one of the more enthusiastic new ensigns barked a nervous, “Captain on the Bridge!”
Kyle looked around the bridge and noted the reactions. Tharg’s subtle shake of the head and B’Toria’s look of distain at the rookie’s faux pas. He turned to the trembling Ensign, the poor kid looked like he was about to faint, “Thank you Ensign?”
The slightly sweaty face paled, “Galliard, Sir.”
Kyle tried to sound reassuring, “Carry on Mister Galliard.”
“Sir!” The Ensign scuttled off a little faster than Kyle would have liked.
T’Lara had vacated the Captain’s chair and was hovering beside it the same way she had the first time Kyle saw her aboard the USS Seattle at Vega Colony.
“You can take the Commander out of the Yeoman, but you can’t take the Yeoman out of the Commander.” He thought to himself as he settled into The chair.
“What’s our status Hendricks?”
The silver pony tail of the former Borg flicked as she looked over her shoulder from Ops. “The last of the technical crews have disembarked. We are good to go Sir.”
“Good. Mister Tharg, disengage all moorings, thrusters to station keeping.”
“Aye Sir. Moorings disengaged, Thrusters at station keeping.”
Kyle looked up at T’Lara, “Ready to roam free again?”
T’Lara nodded, “Something appropriate but not, I believe the term is, ‘showy’?”
Kyle grinned, and passing T’Lara a datapad displaying their orders, gestured to the drydock framed star field on the view screen.
T’Lara seemed to stiffen her hands clasped at the small of her back. “Mister Tharg, one quarter impulse power.”
The drydock vanished from view as the Scimitar raced clear of Starbase 39.
“On my mark disengage impulse engines, set course for Deep Space Nine and engage at warp five. Mark!”
Admiral T’Nae stood at her desk and watched as the distant ship performed an impulse drift turn to almost reverse course and hurtled to warp, illuminating the station with the flare from its nacelles as it passed.
“Heh, Tremayne has some guts pulling a stunt like that after the grilling he got. Kurland’s going to have his hands full keeping that one in line. Starship captains really are a breed apart.” observed Lieutenant Commander DeSoto.
T’Nae glanced at her Intelligence Advisor and back at space where the USS Scimitar had been. Memories surfaced and the old sense of excitement not quite forgotten beckoned. “Yes Lieutenant Commander, I suppose we are.”